We’ve all seen the stats about marketing’s technology budget. The 2022 CMO Survey reported that 59% of companies list technology as a top digital marketing investment. A 2022 Gartner study noted that marketing leaders planned to spend 25.4% of their 2022 budget on technology. And, according to eMarketer, U.S. marketing technology spending is expected to increase a healthy 14.3% this year.
All this leads to one conclusion: The chief marketing officer (CMO) is now so firmly in the technology space that they need to adapt how they strategize and deliver. So, what does this mean for how smart CMOs use the partner ecosystem? Let’s take a closer look:
Identifying and Working with the Right Partners
In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, most companies didn’t have a firm handle on their digital go-to-market (GTM) and thus struggled to serve customers. CMOs reacted by speeding up technology investments at a previously never-before-seen rate. But mistakes were made. Technology was rushed to the table to deliver digital experiences on websites, curb pickup, online ordering, and so forth that weren’t optimized or in many cases even fully functional.
That’s where the ecosystem comes into play. In 2023, the CMO can audit what was done to “make it happen” during COVID and what needs to happen now to “keep it happening” for the firm. This includes strengthening the security across all digital touch points on the customer journey. They can also help lower the overall cost to serve using technology and help negotiate better deals for the technology that will be in use. Identifying and selecting the right ecosystem partners to help in this journey will be critical for growth-oriented CMOs.
Three Key Ideas
As we speak with CMOs across the globe, we have found three key approaches to selecting and working with the right partners.
First, select partners that can help you reinforce, strengthen, and de-risk your customer experiences. Often the CMO has previously partnered with marketing partners that can empower digital customer experiences through unique platforms or programs. These partnerships have created some cool but rather inconsistent experiences for customers. The time to fix that is now. CMOs should select an ecosystem partner with technology expertise that encompasses cloud performance, network performance, and collaboration tools to ensure that the snazzy campaigns they launch digitally don’t break their customer experience.
Next, focus on customer data and analytics. Look to add a partner that has expertise both in data management and manipulation (including data storage), as well as data protection through the right security practices. (The CMO will need to partner internally with the CIO, CTO, and CISO to ensure the right partner is in play here, but the CMO should not abdicate this relationship to the “tech leaders.”)
Finally, ensure you have a partner that can help you prepare for a system outage, breach, data compromise, or performance failure. Prepare for these customer journey lumps by working with the partner to understand issue detection; how it will work with your internal IT (information technology) and marketing teams; and how you will work together as a team to manage through the issue. This is critical to plan out — all too often we just sweep these security issues under the rug believing it will never happen and then are woefully underprepared when it does. The right partner can help prepare for this and protect your brand from a negative outcome.
The bottom line is we have entered a new stage in business and in the technology ecosystem. Long gone are the days when the CMO had the “arts and crafts” for the firm, and other CXO members managed the business elements of GTM. Now, the CMO is effectively in the driver’s seat, running the now largely digital properties and programs that drive the customer experience journey.
The CMO is firmly in the decision-making process for firm IT investments and gives them a considerable voice in its ecosystem plan. They are as important as your enterprise’s traditional IT technology buyers. As such, the CMO needs to have not only a seat at the ecosystem table but also relationships with the right partners to ensure they are getting expert advice and support for their initiatives. Make 2023 the year that your marketing plan includes not only technology partnership initiatives, but also game plans for managing and accelerating these partnerships to gain success.
As always, happy partnering.
Join us on February 23, 2023, for Partners Ecosystem Week, a digital event analyzing the business and IT imperatives around cloud, AI, automation, and cybersecurity ecosystems that define the future of partnerships.
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